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Category Archives: Learning at Home

A day in the life

I love when other moms post their “day in the life” so here’s mine in all its mundane glory.

6:30am:  Made coffee and my husband’s lunch.  Kissed him good-bye and went back to bed where two little girls had slipped under the covers.

7:30am:  Out of bed, drank coffee, and fed the kids.  Perused facebook while the coffee took effect.

8am:  2nd coffee enabled me to answer emails.  Broke up a fight.  Dealt with a melt-down from Norah over I-can’t-remember-what.  I think it had to do with loom bands.

8:45am:  Out the door.  We did our Latin lesson in the car and I ate my breakfast.

9:30am:  Balcony seats at the Brooks Center to see a musical, “The Monster Who Ate My Peas.”

10:45am:  Back in the car.  We listened to a Lyrical Life Sciences song about digestion which turned into a discussion about the Pacific Northwest myth about raven stealing the sun which turned into a discussion about the reproductive system which led to listening to Rita Dove read her poetry.  That’s how we roll.

11:20am:  Met my mother-in-law in Easley so she could take the kids to lunch while I provided a new mama with 2 hours of postpartum care.

2pm:  Heading back home with the girls.  They told me all about fractions which Nana taught them in her craft room today.  Norah showed me how much she crocheted.  Is that really the past-tense of crochet?  I defined the words optimism and pessimism based on Norah’s not-great attitude which led to a discussion about their derivation from the Latin words, pessime and optime.

2:30-4:30pm:  I ate lunch.  Norah practiced violin and read her new book.  Cedar played with her babies.  Then the girls went outside to blow bubbles.  I made a meal to take to a postpartum mom.  Talked to another postpartum mom about her perineum.  Answered more emails.  P.S.  If you send me an email asking lots of questions that require I spend 15 minutes crafting a careful response, please follow-up with a “thank you.”  I’m shocked by the number of strangers who email me things like, “I want to be a doula…will you answer these 17 questions?” and then never reply.  Common courtesy, friends!

5pm:  Dropped meal off.  The girls sang their history songs in the car.

5:45pm:  The girls and I met Scott at Panera for dinner.  He took the girls home and I headed to an Upstate BirthNetwork meeting.  Answered a phone call about a funky umbilical cord and texted with a tired doula.

9pm-10pm:  Stood too long in the cold parking lot talking with my favorite childbirth educator.

10pm-10:45pm:  Cried on the phone with my mother about all the mistakes I’m making with my kids.

11:30pm:  Home in bed blogging with a mug of peppermint tea.

And now I’m laughing that I’m really going to post this “day in the life” on my blog!  Yeah, I pretty much “road-schooled” the kids today.  Tomorrow we’ll get to stay home almost all day and surely there will be math and spelling.

May 10 on 10

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Ten pictures on the 10th:

10am:  Airbending–Norah’s current pastime


11am:  First school day wearing her glasses.  Turns out Norah is far-sighted!  That explains why she has no difficulty reading billboards but all sorts of trouble reading books.  “Mom, the words are all blurry and my eyes are so tired.”  Doh.


12pm:  Boo-boo.  It’s incredible how much blood results when a 3 yr old tries to sharpen her finger in a pencil sharperner.


1pm:  Lunch


2pm:  Strawberries, strawberries everywhere!


3pm:  Bird study


4pm:  Calling in the creepy door-to-door guys claiming to be ADT.  I took pictures of the three guys, too.  I wouldn’t let them walk up my driveway.


5pm:  Waiting for her Daddy/Daughter Date

2013-04-25 11.15.25

6pm:  Story of my life.  Also, I need to dust.


7pm:  Norah and her friend, Veda, at the musical production, “Oliver.”  Last show is tonight…GO SEE IT!


ten on ten button

Friends who don’t homeschool, 10 things I want you to know.

Dear friends, there are some things I want you to know.  I’m putting it here so I can catch you all in one sweep (unless you don’t read my blog.  Hey, why aren’t you reading my blog??).  This post is not a reaction to anything.  I just know that school choices can be polarizing.  I also know I had misconceptions about homeschooling before I started.

1)  I have zero opinion or judgement about where your kids go to school.  Really.  Ok, I take that back.  Some days, I may judge you to be smarter than me for sending your kids to school.  See my side note in #2.

2) I don’t homeschool because I’m anti-public school.  I am a product of public school and I loved it.  I met the guy I married, had some amazing teachers, and earned college credit from AP classes.  It is likely my kids will be in public school one of these days.  *Side-note:  I had a mini-meltdown two weeks ago and it almost happened.  If that school bus had only gone a little bit slower…

3) I don’t homeschool for religious reasons.  I’m happy that I can talk to my kids about my spiritual beliefs but I would do that regardless of where they went to school.

Source: homeschoolerproblems

Source: homeschoolerproblems

4) We don’t replicate traditional school at home.  There are no white boards or desks.  We don’t say the pledge of allegiance and there is no bell.  What we learn is different than what your child might be learning.  Different; not better or worse.  We do school year-round so that we can be flexible and play.  We play a lot.  I have a list of what I’d like to cover in a week and we squeeze it in as we do life.  I like lists; particularly checking them off.  We usually finish everything but life comes first.  And life has plenty of its own important lessons.

Source: fatjealouscatlady

Source: fatjealouscatlady

5) A word about my excessive prolific facebook activity.  Confession:  I may have judged some women before I was a homeschool mom.  It may have gone something like this, “She says she homeschools but she’s always on facebook.  That’s one of my issues with homeschoolers–they can be such slackers!”  Ugly, right?  What can I say?  I’ve eaten so many words since I became a mom.  (Like, “I’ll NEVER homeschool.”)  What is the deal with some homeschool moms and facebook?  I get it now.  It goes like this:  when your child needs supervision while they’re working on a task–say, practicing their reading–you will slowly lose your mind.  It starts oozing out your ears and your foot begins to bounce as irritation creeps up your body.  I survive the mundane sounding-out of words by surreptitiously checking facebook on my phone under the table.  It is for sanity’s sake, people.  I also secretly eat girl scout cookies under the table.

6)  Socialization:  The top question I get from people is “how do your socialize them?”  My question is how do we fit in school with all the socializing?  Norah learns some valuable skills in her daily relations with her sister:  patience, persuasion, conflict resolution, and physical defense skills.  Our calendar is packed with science labs, zoo school, co-ops, field trips, classes, and playdates.  I drop her off every Monday to spend 7 hours with other kids her age.  My husband gently pointed out that I over-scheduled this month.  I did.  It got ugly.



7) It’s challenging for me to hang out kid-free.  Each week, I need to carve out kid-free time for my work:  prenatals, postpartums, births, and classes.  I can’t take a child to those.  That leaves little other time I can ask my child-watchers to help.  If you want to hang out, you’ll get the whole clan.

8) As in most situations, it’s not helpful for you to say, “I could never do that.”  You probably could do it.  Not that you SHOULD but you could homeschool if the situation called for it.  When I hear someone say that, it makes me feel a little isolated and crazy for trying.

9) I’ve found that sometimes homeschool parents can be boastful snotty about their kids.  Do you know why?  Because they’re in the minority.  Whenever anyone does something that isn’t mainstream (ahem, homebirth, attachment parenting, not vaccinating), we tend to focus only on the positives and sometimes sound preachy.  I’ve read homeschool articles that ooze with superiority.  This makes it difficult for me to talk about the areas I worry about when I’m surrounded by “all the homeschool kids test above grade-level, yada yada”.  And it sometimes makes it difficult to talk about it with you.  I want to be transparent about my kids.  Call me on it if I’m sounding too “my kid is a unique snowflake.”  I’m probably really insecure about screwing up my child.  To keep it real, some days are horrible.  Horrible.  Here is a facetime image my husband captured when he called in one morning:


10)  “But how are you going to teach every subject to your kids?”  First off, my kid is in 1st grade.  I can handle that material.  I don’t know how long I’ll homeschool so this question might be irrelevant to us.  However, my goal–and the goal of most homeschool families–is to teach kids to teach themselves.  When they reach material that presents a challenge, there are online classes/lectures, local college classes, mentors, the library, and more.  I hope I can help my girls work beyond what I can teach them.

Why do I do it?  It feels right.  For now.  I like the flexibility of it.  It works well with being on call as a doula.  I like that when Norah gets excited about something, we can drop everything and dig into a subject.  I don’t have to get up early in the morning and I don’t have to do carpool lines.  I really like what I’m learning.  I’m digging up memories from Mr. Wilson’s 8th grade Latin class.  I’ve memorized a 13 minute history timeline song.  This week, I’m learning about the Songhai empire.  I love the old and often obscure texts we read.  Redeeming my own education.

If this post sounds disjointed, I broke up 15 fights between my children, lost my temper three times, got side-tracked by google image, and attended a birth while attempting to write it.  So, I’ve meandered.  What I want to say is I love my friends who don’t homeschool and very much need you in my life.  You give me balance and perspective.  And you keep me from being a HOMESCHOOL MOM instead of a mom who happens to homeschool.  

Swept away

Adoring: My husband who brings home the bacon and looks so dang hot when he leaves for work in the morning.  Also, he and Norah love to sing Swept Away by The Avett Brothers.  I cry quietly imagining her wedding, dancing with her daddy, and getting all crazy sentimental.

Listening to:  A podcast about fecal transplants.  Oh my word.  And people get all worked up about placenta encapsulation??

Proud of: Norah.  She learned to crochet and began wood-carving last week.  She also made another bat house and hiked to the top of Table Rock.


Never Leaving Home Without:  my phone.  I’m back on call.

Appreciating:  the flexibility of my days.  It could change tomorrow but for now, I appreciate that I sleep until 8am many mornings.  I can call a play day like I did today instead of doing school with the girls.  We school year-round to allow for that.  I’ve never enjoyed routine and, for now, these days are satisfying.

Nostalgic about: Josh Finch.  Scott and I have spent hours remembering our old co-worker.  That time he ran through the woods with a pocket-knife certain he was being chased.  That time he cried with me over Scott’s chainsaw injury.  That time he pulled me up when I was dangling off Kaaterskill Falls.  That time he ran through the woods with some shredded cheese certain he was being chased.  Oh Finch.  You are missed.

Reading: Eat Mangoes Naked, While I was Gone, Birth Matters for my Hypnobabies Recertification, and loads of poetry.  I just read The Poisonwood Bible for the first time.  That one messed me up in the way only a great book can.

Buying: Dr. Bronner’s Patchouli-Lime Lotion, Alba Sugar Cane Body Polish, and a new math curriculum for Norah.

Drinking: Numi Earl Grey Tea

Working on: long overdue birth stories for my clients.  And taxes.  And projects for Upstate BirthNetwork.

Wishing: I was finished with my taxes.

Giddy about: My sister will be home in just a few months!!!  She’ll be in my kitchen complaining about how I forget to turn on lights.  We’ll take our kids to the park.  I’ll help her through re-entry culture shock by feeding her chocolate and ice cream.

Feeling:  Energized and happy.

photo-20Missing:  Vermont.  And the dear ones who live there–like that sleepy fellow on the right.  And the fact that they have recycling containers at the gas pumps.

Grumpy that: I need to make a decision about a homeschool co-op for next year.  I’m not ready.  I like our current program but it is pricey.  With a program that costs less, I’ll have to volunteer more but I’ll have more money to spend on extra-curricular programs.

Decisions.  I hate them.

I remembered! 10 on 10

8am:  Morning Race (pardon the blur; those girls can move)


9am:  School time


10am:  Chickadee added to Norah’s nature journal


11am:  Read aloud


12pm:  My little ponies


1pm:  Watercolors on the lawn; poetry for me


2pm:  Tea time


3pm:  Unexpected visit from a sweet friend.  Cedar loves her “goat lady”


4pm:  Stray Cujo scared the bejeebies out of me *


5pm:  Riesling in a jelly jar (classy), nag champa, and blog time.  I deserve it.


*That dog!  I walked to the mailbox and when I turned to walk back to the house, he was standing 15 feet away between the house and me.  Where did he come from?  Stealthy fiend.

ten on ten button

The House Gnomes, or The Hals Noms

Remember in this post when I mentioned that I sold the girls’ play kitchen?  Well, they finally noticed.

Norah:  “Mom, where is the kitchen?”

Me:  (shocked) “What kitchen?”

Norah:  “Our play kitchen!  It’s gone!”

Me:  “Gone?  What do you mean gone?”

Norah:  “Ugh!!!  That house gnome took it!”

Me:  (Cheshire cat grin)

So what did the indignant Norah do?  She immediately went to her desk and penned a letter to the house gnome.

Please keep in mind that Norah is very new to writing letters.  In fact, this month marks the beginning of her willingness to try.  Before, she was too worried about mistakes.  I told her (back when Barbie disappeared) that gnomes read by sounding out letters.  They didn’t know “correct” spelling.  Suddenly, she was writing letters and even a few books!  Yeah, one of my finer ideas.  I’ll post the three-page letter and then I’ll post the translation under each page.

Dear gnomes,

I was


where is the toy


I am very


 Signed Norah.


Do you have


to do

with it


I need


Please give

a note



you are


with our



Uncommon Thanks #2

I forgot to post 10 on 10 yesterday so I’ll use yesterday’s events as my thanks:

1)  Strawberry cream cheese scones and sitting outside on a November morning.

2)  Time with friends who enrich the lives of my children.

3) Climbing mulberry trees

4)  Learning woodworking skills at Roper Mountain Science Center (also felting wool, making herb sachets, herding sheep, plowing fields, pumping water, grinding corn, feeding animals, watching blacksmiths and other artisans)

5)  My husband finished the woodstove installation in his new woodworking shop

6)  Learning to sew on a button

7)  Dropping off Norah at Saturday science labs.

8) Watching a movie alone with popcorn and chocolate beer.

October 10 on 10

9am:  I bribed the girls with a promise of hot chocolate for breakfast if they would just let me sleep until 8am.  It worked.

10am:  Surveying the homeschool mess from yesterday.

11am:  Power smoothie

12pm:  My cheat sheet to remember that King Philip comes over for good spaghetti.

1pm:  Sneaking a peek at Cedar playing My Little Pony while wearing little boy undies.

2pm:  Flying homemade kites with friends

3pm:  Guinea pigs!

4pm:  Learning about static electricity

5pm:  Introducing two new caterpillars and a chrysalis to our home (hopefully they will live longer than the last ones)

6pm:  Pies ready to go in the oven.  I have two first-time mamas due and it doesn’t hurt to sweeten up my family before I disappear indefinitely.


ten on ten button small

End of September Joys

As I try to give myself more margin, I’m noticing much small joy around me.

Is any joy small?

* Cedar’s love of frilly pink things and My Little Ponies.

* Sharing poetry and Shakespeare with Norah.

* Playing iPod shuffle “name that tune” with Scott. I’m really weak at Yacht Rock.

* Silly texting with Noelle even though international texting isn’t free. We’ve always silly texted so even though Skype is free, we continue the practice.

* Learning about the Faroe Islands because they regularly show up in my blog visitor stats and I don’t know about this lovely place. Now I want to visit. Or live there. Hello to my reader(s) in the Faroe Islands!

* Receiving texts about intimate birthy things in the middle of dinner parties. It is like the sweetest slumber party secret.

* Cedar sleeping with 24 My Little Ponies and hearing them fall out of her bed. One at a time. All night long.

* Watching Norah draw.

* The mothercords I wear on my ankles and the families they represent.

* Cedar putting on her “work boots” to help my dad work. I have almost this same picture from when I was a kid.

* Discovering that Keen makes boots. Discovering this tidbit because my sweetest of all husbands ordered a pair for me.

* The last warm days of summer.

* Norah asking me to help her memorize “Be Thou My Vision.”

May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright heav’ns Son.

I hope you’re also finding joy in these fleeting, wispy moments.

Play, Pauses, and Tropical what?

Posted on

I’m sorry I’ve been absent.

Life, you know.  Busy, but also lazy at times.  Beautiful and messy.  A July filled with birthday parties, sleepovers, camps, backyard snakes black and green, learning, meetups, birthy moments, teaching, a few meltdowns (me) and tantrums (kids).

Norah received her first kayak so we’ve spent some days paddling as a family.

School continues.   We do year-round to allow for slumps when we escape to beaches or mountains or simply spend days eating popcorn and watching movies.

There was a giant pause during the last two weeks when it was possible that I would go to Bangkok, Phnom Penh, or Singapore.  My brother-in-law‘s health was dicey and Noelle needed help.  Her sweet soon-to-be two year old was nursing like a newborn round the clock.  In the end, my mom was chosen to go to Singapore.  Her layover in Hong Kong coincided with Typhoon Vicente and after some delay, she arrived.

I have a bad feeling she’s going to inadvertently break a rule like spit out her gum and she will be  fined or caned.

Right now, it looks like my brother-in-law might have Tropical Sprue.  Have you ever heard of this?  Me neither.  I’m fairly certain it is something Ernest Hemingway coined.   Along the lines of malaise or consumption.  It is old-fashioned and tres missionary-esque.  Thankfully, it is treatable.

In the meantime, I attended a birth at which I was entirely superfluous.  While I want that to be the case, it is still hard to admit when I’m not at all necessary.  You know a birth is amazing when the doula isn’t needed.

Speaking of doulas, there is a local doula who needs to attend a birth in August to complete her certification.  Do you know someone who cannot afford a doula or would be willing to invite a doula to serve?

What else?  I have two spaces remaining for my Aug/Sept Hypnobabies class.

Come see me Saturday at the Blessingway!